I recently had an ASA member request clarification as to how they should classify employee injuries when the employee is out of town travelling on behalf of the company. In the past they said that if the employee was out of town they considered all injuries as company related since they would not have been there if it were not for the duties of their employment. This is not necessarily true and I hope to clarify that in this month’s newsletter.
For the sake of OSHA reporting OSHA considers Injuries and illnesses that occur while an employee is on travel status are work-related if, at the time of the injury or illness, the employee was engaged in work activities “in the interest of the employer.” Examples of such activities include travel to and from customer contacts, conducting job tasks, and entertaining or being entertained to transact, discuss, or promote business (work-related entertainment includes only entertainment activities being engaged in at the direction of the employer).
This is where it gets interesting and there are a number of instances where the employer would not have to classify an injury as company related.
Injuries or illnesses that occur when the employee is on travel status do not have to be recorded if they meet one of the exceptions listed below:
IF THE EMPLOYEE HAS CHECKED INTO A HOTEL FOR ONE OR MORE DAYS: You may use the following to determine if an injury or illness is work related: When a traveling employee checks into a hotel, motel, or into another temporary residence, he or she establishes a “home away from home”. You must evaluate the employee’s activities after he or she checks into the hotel, motel, or other temporary residence for their work relatedness in the same manner as you evaluate the activities of a non-traveling employee. When the employee checks into the temporary residence, he or she is considered to have left the work environment. Then the employee begins work each day, he or she re-enters the work environment. If the employee has established a “home away from home” and is reporting to a fixed worksite each day, you also do not consider injuries or illness work related if they occur while the employee is commuting between the temporary residence and the job location.
IF THE EMPLOYEE HAS TAKEN A DETOUR FOR PERSONAL REASONS: You may use the following to determine if an injury or illness is work-related: Injuries or illnesses are not considered work-related if they occur while the employee is on a personal detour from a reasonably direct route of travel (e.g., has taken a side trip for personal reason).
So you can see that the key elements to remember are:
- The temporary residence is the same as his or her home residence in the eyes of OSHA
- Travel to and from the motel from the jobsite each day is considered personal time just as it is if they were working locally.
- Personal side trips deviating from work related travel are considered personal time.
- If your Superintendent gets hurt in a bar fight, guess what? He’s his wife’s problem.
- The most important thing to take away from this newsletter is that you have to really communicate with your employees on the road much more so than if they were working locally. You knowing where they are going and their daily routine could possibly save you thousands down the road in medical claims, insurance premium cost, and lost business through a low EMR rating.
As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me at any time.
Michael Sicking, Safety International, LLC